Rocky region's property owners could dodge hefty levy bills
UP TO 1,300 of Rockhampton region's property owners, including John Steinberger, may be able to dodge a bullet in the shape of a hefty bill from the State Government.
Hope for the region's property owners came yesterday when Queensland's Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Craig Crawford shared his government's plan to help those residents being charged more for the Emergency Management Levy.
Early in July, owners of properties on multiple lots of land were warned of the prospect of being out of pocket for amounts varying from $40 to over $1000 annually following a change in the way Rockhampton Regional Council collected the money for the State Government's EML.
Addressing a fact finding forum in Mount Morgan last week, Mirani MP Stephen Andrew encouraged affected locals, like former Mount Morgan tour operator Mr Steinberger, to share their stories, discuss plans to launch a petition and explore strategies for softening the financial blow.
After the levy charging discrepancy was uncovered in an audit of seven local councils, Mr Crawford said there was little legal flexibility for residents set to be charged per lot of land rather than per rates notice given the very specific legislation in place since the 1990s.
Mr Crawford emphasised that he didn't want people to panic or get themselves into a dire financial situation.
"The first thing I want people to do, if they receive the rates bill and the EML charge, is go back to the council to check and just make sure they've applied the right EML charge to the property you have," Mr Crawford said.
"If you believe the increase is outrageous or exorbitant, and we have heard examples of people getting a thousand dollar increase or more, the next step is to approach QFES.
"Talk to the regional staff, the assistant commissioner or even the QFES commissioner.
"We want to work individually with those land owners and see if we can resolve it.
"It is not the intention of QFES to sit by and say 'too bad, that's the legislation, you've got to pay and we don't care'."
Mr Crawford said his department was exploring a number of legal options and interim measures as they sought to resolve the issue, including deferring or waiving payments while State Government attempted to pass legislation - a process which could take three to more than 12 months.
Fix your Bill
- Contact the council 49329000 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contact QFES Levy Management Unit 3635 3041 or QFESLevy@ qfes.qld. gov.au